Curating the week in wellness Jan. 17-21, 2022

A survey finds that women want greater workplace support and understanding regarding menopause, and workload stands in the way of U.S. employees taking time off.

By Kacey Larsen      
women want greater workplace support and understanding regarding menopause

Hello, wellness pros!

We have curated a collection of thought-provoking articles, tips and takeaways for the week.  

Please get in touch with any ideas, suggestions or feedback on how we can serve you better or cover topics that are top-of-mind at your organization. Email: kaceyl@ragan.com.

1. Lack of support around menopause.

Data from a survey commissioned by childcare service Koru Kids reveals that 24% of women who are experiencing menopause symptoms are unhappy due to a lack of workplace support. Reported by Employee Benefits, the survey received responses from 2,000 women across the United Kingdom who experience menopause symptoms. The lack of workplace support seems obvious when 73% of respondents do not feel able to speak openly about their symptoms to colleagues, and 63% indicate their workplace does not have a policy to support those experiencing menopause.

Additionally, 70% of women experiencing menopause did not tell their employer the reason they needed time off was because of their symptoms. Having children and menopause both can impact women’s careers and remove them from the workplace.

Rachel Carrell, founder of Koru Kids said, “Women should never be pushed out of the workplace because of their biology. Menopause is a natural part of women’s life course, and shouldn’t mean the end of their career. As a society we need to support older women with flexible working and health support so they don’t fall out of the workplace needlessly.”

2. U.S. employees cite workload as a reason they can’t take time off.

European workers take off almost double the number of days (24) as American workers (14), finds a Skynova study. Another key takeaway, reported by Allwork, is that Americans suggest their workloads often prevent them from taking personal days (41%), vacation days (40%) and sick days (29%).

Comparatively, European respondents said they never feel pressured by their workloads into not taking personal days (24%) or vacation time (25%), and calendars and inboxes never stopped them from calling in sick (36%).

When workload is the obstacle to employees taking needed and deserved time off, it becomes crucial for a support system or coverage plan to be put into place. As Workplace Wellness Insider contributor Mark Mohammadpour recently wrote, “Your in-person, hybrid and virtual teams need to prioritize their well-being so they can shine, which will make you shine as well.”

3. Six steps to help address workplace disparities.

Research shows that Black Americans are aging faster than their white counterparts, so how can organizations better support their employees of color and dismantle unequal workplace structures? In an article on Forbes, Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative, outlines six steps that can help with a solution to this public health crisis.

  • Listen to your employees about workplace shortcomings.
  • Set meaningful, comprehensive goals.
  • Make DE&I part of executive leadership performance evaluations.
  • Don’t place the burden on your employees of color.
  • Test, learn, repeat to evolve efforts meaningfully.
  • Remember, it impacts your bottom line.  

4. Why the omicron variant makes mental health support a necessity.

A sense of workplace well-being ranks second to monetary compensation on a list of must-have employee benefits, reports Benefits Pro. Under that well-being umbrella, mental health must be a priority as employees once again navigate another COVID-19 variant.

“As leaders, we must take that extra effort to listen, learn and engage with each other,” the author writes. “Flexibility is key, but it’s having the important conversations about mental health and employee feelings that goes such a long way in creating a culture of understanding and support. Our team members need that form of support more than ever.”  

In this vein, human resources technology vendor Phenom announced it is offering $1,000 to each of its U.S. employees to put toward their mental health in 2022. In an email statement to HR Dive, the company’s Chief People Officer, Brad Goldoor, explains this benefit is funded through a health reimbursement agreement and is separate from the company’s health plan.

Goldoor says, “As the pandemic continues to weigh on all our minds, we do not want our employees to think twice about accessing mental health resources if they need them. Unfortunately, many therapists don’t accept health insurance, which can significantly reduce the upfront cost of therapy.”

5. Make the “stay interview” part of an employee retention strategy.

In a conversation with Employee Benefit News, Lily Valentin, head of operations for North America at Adzuna, recommends a “stay interview” as an opportunity for employees and leadership to connect as humans while also having a candid conversation about how things are going. These conversations then become an employee engagement tool as well as a way to shape an organization’s culture.

A few keys to making a stay interview effective, Valentin says:

  • Interviews should occur twice a year at least, but quarterly would be better.
  • Senior leaders should block out an hour (even if the conversation will only be 20 to 30 minutes) so no one feels rushed.
  • Reiterate this is a conversation, not a review or formal interview.
  • Inquire about any challenges an employee faces in their life or work, how they feel about their current role and what is motivating them as a long-term career goal.
  • Because follow-up is integral, create an actionable plan to address points of discontent or stress.

“My most critical tip to employers is to really listen, absorb and see what you can do, not only for that individual but your organization as a whole,” Valentin says. “As for employees, they need to understand that they’re in the driver’s seat and they should always feel like they’re in the driver’s seat—employers will respect your honesty now more than ever.”